EU commits to slashing farm tariffs at WTO talks

July 21st, 2008 - 11:44 pm ICT by IANS  

DPA
Geneva, July 21 (DPA) The European Union (EU) is prepared to slash tariffs on agricultural imports by more than half, EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson said Monday on the first day of a key round of talks in Geneva aimed at reviving the World Trade Organization’s Doha Round. Mandelson said the EU was also prepared to cut agricultural subsidies to its farmers by almost 100 billion euros ($160 billion).

The trade commissioner said tariffs on agricultural imports would be cut by at least 54 percent, while his spokesman, Peter Power, put the average figure as high as 60 percent.

The EU is looking to the major developing countries, such as China, India, Brazil and Mexico, to make similar cuts in their tariffs on industrial goods and services provided by the industrialized countries.

Mandelson said the EU was ready to abolish all subsidies on agricultural exports if there was agreement on the Doha Round, which has been running for almost seven years.

With regard to non-agricultural goods, the EU was ready to cut import tariffs by a trillion euros.

An agreement would be tailored to the interests of agricultural exporters in the developing world and would be painful for European farmers, he said.

Earlier, the US made clear its commitment to securing a successful conclusion to the trade liberalization talks.

Trade Representative Susan Schwab said the US was well aware of the responsibilities of its leadership role in breaking the impasse.

“This is not the time and not the week for falling back on tired rhetoric, rhetoric designed to perpetuate old divisions or to create new ones,” Schwab told delegates at the start of the weeklong meeting in Geneva.

The Doha Round, named after the Qatari capital where it began in November 2001, has been deadlocked for years. The impasse can be broken only by unanimous agreement between all 153 member countries.

Almost 40 ministers from all the major trading blocs are negotiating this week in Geneva in what has been described as a last-ditch attempt to break the deadlock.
DPA

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